\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz How to pronounce shelf (audio) \

Definition of shelf

1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objects
b : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure
c : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as
a : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged
b : a flat projecting layer of rock
c : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

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Other Words from shelf

shelfful \ ˈshelf-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce shelf (audio) \ noun
shelflike \ ˈshelf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shelf (audio) \ adjective

Examples of shelf in a Sentence

Put the vase on the shelf. the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet Will you get that book down off the shelf? We don't have much shelf space.
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Recent Examples on the Web What is the value of obliterating traditional barriers to entry and offering unlimited shelf space to creators who never would have known what door to knock on, let alone had that knock answered, in the pre-streaming industry? Garrett Levin, Billboard, 21 Oct. 2021 The brand’s first two collections earned Davis shelf space in sought out retailers including Farfetch, Browns, Ssense, and Net-A-Porter. Greg Emmanuel, Essence, 27 Sep. 2021 Jinx leverages objective performance metrics to motivate consumers to maintain their delivery subscriptions and get shelf space in some of the largest retailers in the world, including Target and others to be announced. Richard Kestenbaum, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 The brands were initially pitted against each other, in negotiations for shelf space and licensing deals., 15 Aug. 2021 Vintage books share shelf space with antique timepieces. cleveland, 6 Aug. 2021 San Diego brewers anticipated a tough 2020, with more than 150 local breweries competing for fans, tap handles and shelf space in supermarkets and bottle shops. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Aug. 2021 When celebrities launch beauty brands, it's typically done with a passion for beauty, a drive to connect with fans in a new way, and a mission to fill in glaring gaps in what was once less inclusive shelf space. Marci Robin, Allure, 4 Aug. 2021 There's even a set of undercabinet drawers to boost your shelf space and make room for things like kitchen linens, spices, and other small pantry items. Lily Gray, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shelf

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shelf

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

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Time Traveler for shelf

Time Traveler

The first known use of shelf was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near shelf



shelf angle

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Statistics for shelf

Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shelf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for shelf



English Language Learners Definition of shelf

: a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed
: a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater


\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz \

Kids Definition of shelf

1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things
2 : a flat area (as of rock)

More from Merriam-Webster on shelf

Nglish: Translation of shelf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shelf for Arabic Speakers


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